ii) Offer For God’s Work
“And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering.”
He who gives God a significant part of his possessions can neither be possessed by his possessions nor enslaved by materialism.
A Pleasant Offering Unto God
The first brutal attack, leading to the first human physical death was a result of making an acceptable offering to God. Have you ever thought about it? The irony of the story of Abel is that he is the first person whose act God respected—in other words, God was pleased with Abel’s offering—yet he was killed for it and God chose not to prevent it. God had pointed out to Cain that he stood a chance to be accepted if he did well. Envious of his brother, Cain had purposed to kill Abel to which God asked him to take responsibility and rule over sin instead of God taking it upon Himself to restrain Cain physically (Gen. 4:7).
From the very beginning, God had let something happen that shows that pleasing Him has a cost—and the cost can be up to and including life. The difficult question that this leaves me with is: If Abel knew that he would be killed for offering his best to God, would he still have given what he gave?
Giving back to God must be extremely important. It was the first material exchange with God that the enemy attacked with a physical death. Is it any wonder that giving the best to God is a challenge to many people? Today, majority of us may not be killed for giving a respectable offering to God, but does this mean offering to God has since become easy and ‘less dangerous’? The enemy must have devised other sly ways to stop people from giving. He can do this by making people face some economic challenges; or giving them good reasons to make them give pathetic things; or give them an endless appetite for luxury to make the competition for their resources stiff, etc.
Just as Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, died before the Lord when they offered strange fire before the Lord (Numbers 3:4), it is also anathema to make ‘strange’ offerings unto the Lord. In fact, God rebukes sacrificing blemish animals to Him (Deut. 15:21, Mal. 1:8,13).
Giving the best to God and doing so joyously and generously, is not only an act of appreciating Him as the ultimate owner of all we have, it also helps us be free from the bondage of materialism. Giving back to God, whether as an offering or tithe, is natural and inherent. We meet both before the law was constituted.
After God created and placed the first couple in the Garden of Eden, we don’t read any instruction or commandment about offerings they were expected to make to Him. This means that when Cain and Abel made their offerings, they were not doing so under the requirement of a constitution but under the prompting of intuition. Doesn’t it naturally feel like bad mannerism to always want to get things from others but are reluctant to give anything back to them? It is so natural to give to the one who gives us. The Bible says that even sinners do this (Lk. 6:32-34). Giving back to God is as natural as it is spiritual.
Your Discretion Reflects Your Devotion
Important as it is, God has allowed us to decide what we want to offer Him. He is however not obligated to accept it, especially if it is defective (Deut. 15:21). There are things that we give to God but which we may not give an earthly leader.
“And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts.”—Malachi 1:8.
It is through giving that we express our love. The value of what we give corresponds to the measure of love we have for the person. We gauge how much God loves us by considering that He gave His only Son to come to the earth and die for our sins. By giving us Christ, God gave us Himself. It is sad that when God gives Himself, we feel like He needs to necessarily materialise His giving in physical dimension. God told Abraham, “I am your exceeding great reward” to which Abraham responded, “Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?” (Gen. 15:1-2). Note that God didn’t say, I am your ‘rewarder’. This is not to say that we shouldn’t relate with God as our “rewarder” because the Bible says that He is indeed a rewarder (Heb. 11:6). What this means is that we stand to be fulfilled more in our relationship with God when we understand that we are complete when we have Him in our life regardless of whatsoever things seem to lack in our life.
Giving back to God is a very important way to appreciate Him and it is an integral part of stewardship, yet it is as voluntary as it is natural. There is no law about it. Though we don’t have to give, yet we can’t help but give. It is so natural that there must be something truly wrong if we don’t regularly give, the reason for not doing so notwithstanding. The commitment to give back something to God is a sign of the devotion and the health of a fellowship we have with Him.
Dr. David Livingstone, the man renowned for championing the abolition of slave trade put it as follows:
“I place no value on anything I have or may possess, except in relation to the kingdom of God. If anything will advance the interests of the kingdom, it shall be given away or kept, only as by giving or keeping it I shall most promote the glory of Him to whom I owe all my hopes in time or eternity.”
May the paradox of Abel’s death not discourage anyone from offering to God, especially knowing that the Devil may fight you for pleasing God.
In John 12:1-8, the Bible tells us about Jesus’ visit to Bethany at the home of Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary. The latter took a pound of ointment, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus. Judas Iscariot looked at it as a wastage. He complained about the beautiful thing that Mary had done to the Lord. He asked, “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? (v.5). It turned out that it was not because he was concerned about the poor. There are people who are supposedly followers of Christ who would discourage you from giving gifts of value to the Lord. They would point you to other supposedly better alternatives where to give your resources. The tricky thing is that some of these people may not be outrightly malicious like Judas.